April 27, 2003

Drowning in the sea of technological advancement

Do you often encounter those things dealing with today's technology that just drive you wild because you cannot or do not possess the ability to know why something is not doing what it has done a hundred or more times before. Sometimes this happens on a major scale, like when the car quits running despite being full of gas, oil, water and having a sufficiently charged battery. In the old days, I could check a few things, but now all those things I used to check are circuit boards. Even the best mechanic seems to have problems pinpointing which one of the various boards is the actual cause of the problem. They always seem to have to replace more than one of them before they charge you your next month's grocery and gas money for getting your car running.

Repairing almost anything less expensive than a car is almost ridiculous, unless you happen to have the abilities to do it yourself. I have thought of television sets and VCRs as disposable items for almost a decade. I average getting a new TV about every 10 years and a VCR about every five. I have done the same with computers, although I was very sad to have only gotten about a year out of the last one. I have had this one only half that time and feel ready to chunk it out with the trash.

I actually still have the old one, because it was actually a good system . . . until one morning I booted it up and faced a BSOD (most of us know that BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH we face when something really goes wrong in windows) . . . upon boot up! I was given the option of booting in several different Windows modes, and did actually attempt to boot in each one of those modes -- on several occasions -- unsuccessfully. I checked the CMOS. OK, nothing there, so the next thing is to restore the system using a set of disks that were supplied with the computer. You have no option of not reformatting the hard drive when you do this, so you lose everything you have not previoulsy backed up. I start the system restoration, sit 10 minutes, put in the second disk, wait 10 more minutes . . . while CABs inflate and load. Reboot --- BSOD! OK, I go through the original rig-a-ma-role again, just on the off chance that it will actually boot in one of the other modes, allowing me to see if there is some hardware conflict. NO DICE! I run the "restore" reinstall a couple of additional times with the same result. FINE! I cuss. I finally call the tech people for the computer company. It turns out my warranty had expired a week or so prior, but I knew that before I called. I will give that tech his due: he did not hang up on me and did advise me of a simple thing that might correct the problem.

No computer: I can take it to the shop, but I already know that will take a week, if I am lucky. I have grown so totally dependent on the barrage of information I receive on the Internet that I can no more go a week without Internet access than I can go without food. Actually, as I seem to spend so much time on the Internet that I often forget to eat, I might actually be more likely to go a week without food than I would the Internet. Well, luckily for me, Walmart sells computers. They even sell computers with brand names with which I am familiar. Luckily for me, I happened to have just enough money in savings to buy the cheapest computer Walmart had for sale. I was back online without a few hours.

As I said previously, I still have that other computer. Once I was back online, I did a bit a bit of research on the error codes I had been given and got some idea what the error message was saying. What I did not discover, through reading pages upon pages of stuff written by Microsoft, was to what part of the computer that error was pointing. I did further research in some computer repair manuals I borrowed from a friend of mine who had some purchased in the last year. I was so sure they much better than the ones I have from five years ago. I still found nothing that told me exactly what the problem was, but I did find something in one of those manuals that supported what the tech had suggested I do, which was to unplug and replug the memory chip. I was almost sure it was a memory problem. I received a second opinion from a relative of an online friend of mine, to whom I emailed the error code. I have subsequently mentioned this episode to another tech friend of mine I only see occasionally and they disclosed that they had experienced the very same problem with a computer previously. All points toward me having to buy a new memory chip for that system. Memory is pretty cheap. I could even upgrade and get expanded memory. Walmart does not sell memory, though. The place where I do generally buy things like that is quite a distance from the town where I live and I have not had time to make a trip that far from home lately. So that system waits. You can bet that before I chunk this one out, that one will be operational. However, that plan could suddenly change, should something unforeseen occur, like this system crashes . . . totally.

Today - I have made two prior posts to this blog, which I duly published. Blogger appeared to operate correctly; the display showed publishing to have occurred; and it says publishing has occurred at the stated date and time. However, the new posts have yet to appear on my publicly published page. I checked the FTP capabilities to my site server and they appear to be operating normally. So? What is the problem? I don't know, and don't know how to find out. You have to love technology.

I am actually quite new to blogging, having started this, my first blog, a month ago. I have been reading other people's blogs to get a feel for what to do with my blog. Some blogs are full of really good writing, divulging great insight and unique perspectives. I read some blogs because they read mine. Some of these are really great blogs and some I find to be a bit short in content pleasing to my tastes. College students and young people have far more entertaining lives than I do, but I am not all that interested
in reading about their daily exploits. However, some of these younger people have some of the most extraordinary designs. I spend more time admiring the uniqueness of their design than I spend reading their content. The Internet has created one of the greatest forums for display of artistic talent. If no other purpose than that, it has been a boon to mankind.

I have not done any real web designing for a couple of years. Last time I did a site, CSS was still not fully functional in all browsers, and Java applets were all the rage. FLASH was just beginning to look like it was chosen design tool of future web development. I can do FLASH. I actually spent a couple of years learning how to use the amazing capabilities of FLASH design. But lately I am finding all these new terms: what is all this XML, PHP and stuff? I guess when I go buy that memory, I had better
look for "XML for Dummies" or something. I still resort to my "HTML for Dummies" when I forget the correct code for this or that, though the code in that book is pre-HTML4.

I started on the Internet, not at the beginning, but still several years ago. IRC was the hot thing then, browsers were just being updated from version 2 to version 3 and at that point, Netscape and Internet Explorer were neck to neck in popularity. My first Internet provider supplied me with Netscape3.0. I did not know any better, and it seemed to work well for me. Since then, I have progressed, keeping my browsers updated, and always having both on my system. I seem to prefer IE now, but it did take
me awhile to make that switch. I have this thing about Microsoft. I am convinced they write trash, and think that if they would only open source it, some real programmers could streamline it and make it more stable. From my own experience, every new version of operating system that MS has produced since DOS6.1 has been less stable than its predecessor. Sure, the capability supposedly expands, but the system is so unstable that you are continually rebooting. I sometimes feel ready to get a MAC, but I can buy three clones for the price of one MAC. What with the continued expansion of speed and memory, obsolescence is built into my computer price formula. Sorry MAC, but you are priced way out of my market.

n my years on the Internet, I have chatted, I have emailed, I have subscribed, taken part in, and read news groups, I have played games, I have IM'd and still have a sub2M ICQ#. I spend more time on the computer than I do at any other activity. I , thankfully have one for work, also. How did I fall so far behind?

I am very thankful for technology. Too bad it sometimes sucks, really bad.

PS. And still I could not get this published through the normal channels and had to do a work-around to get this published.

Posted by Tiger at April 27, 2003 09:04 PM